Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2009
Publication Date: 2/1/2010
Publication URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/47024
Citation: Vasquez, E., James, J., Monaco, T., Cummings, D.C. 2010. Invasive Plants on Rangelands: A Global Threat. Rangelands. 32:3-5. Interpretive Summary: The Rangeland Invasive Species Committee (RISC) is a broad group who seek to serve the Society for Range Management and the public by focusing attention, sharing knowledge, and communicating about rangeland invasive species by sponsoring a special issue of Rangelands Journal. To preface this special issue, our overall goal with this introduction article is to briefly highlight a few key factors influencing the expansion of invasive plants on rangelands and ecological processes that may be involved driving invasion. The series of articles presented in this special issue of Rangelands is a significant step toward addressing this quandary. If looking into the past offers insights into the ecological patterns and processes responsible for the impacts of invasive plants today, an awareness of the current discoveries and conceptual ideas will enrich our understanding of how to proceed into the future and manage rangeland invasive plants.
Technical Abstract: Invasive plant species are spreading and invading rangelands at an unprecedented rate costing ranchers billions of dollars to control invasive plants each year. In its simplest form, the invasion process has four primary stages, including introduction, establishment, spread and colonization. The overall goal of this article is to briefly highlight a few key factors influencing the expansion of invasive plants on rangelands and ecological processes that may be involved driving invasion. Stages of invasion can be described in terms of a series of ecological barriers or filters that may prevent an organism from proceeding to the next stage. The spread of invasive plants into new sites only starts when environmental barriers do not prevent individuals from surviving and when various barriers to regular reproduction and expansion are overcome. Next to habitat destruction, invasive plants are considered the second-most important threat to rangeland biodiversity throughout the world. Approximately 45- 50% of the total global land area is considered rangeland, which means their management is extremely important for the overall global conservation of biodiversity. The ability for rangelands to provide goods and services will depend upon rangeland health and the search for effective unified strategies of managing invasive plants has yielded variable results. The need for management strategies that address the underlying ecosystem processes that facilitate invasion is huge and not fully met. Recognizing that invasion is not a discrete event, but a continuous process is fundamentally necessary if individual rangeland professionals are to visualize how to combat this growing threat.